Candace Thome has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Starting in elementary school, she sold custom school supplies out of her desk and locker. Today she runs a nonprofit she founded, Swim Brayv, which is very close to her heart. Candace is also a marketing consultant for other small to medium sized businesses. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her passion for business with others.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I have always known I would start my own business(es). However, I had a different path in mind until my youngest brother, Brayv, passed away by drowning. After his death I studied drowning statistics, other water-related nonprofits, and the various causes of drowning. Saddened by the mass occurrences this issue of public safety happens to people, I figured out what I needed in order to start a nonprofit that focused on drowning prevention. That was how the Swim Brayv Foundation started.
Tell us about your business.
Swim Brayv Foundation is a nonprofit that creatively engages and educates the public on being advocates for water safety and drowning prevention. Our logo and mascot is a mermaid, which we use as a magical and innovative approach to the topic. We wanted to take a scary topic and make it more approachable for people to speak about. Therefore, we use our mermaid mascots to lure the human-folk over, then engage and educate kids on water safety and adults on being an advocate for drowning prevention. Our outreach program tours during the spring and summer allowing us to reach a large audience at water-based recreational events; such as: water sporting events, beach block parties, coastal resorts, and much more.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
We have several summer events happening in 2017 and we have giveaways and contests at each of our events! At our last event, we had a free raffle and gave away a $100 Athleta Gift Card as well as a girls Athleta swimsuit. Keep an eye out for an events tab coming to our website soon! You will be able to see our events calendar, learn about future event giveaways and book us for events!
- Obtained 2 degrees, in business and dance
- Graduated from college while recovering from spine surgery
- Started a Federally compliant 501(c)(3) right after graduating
Where is your business based?
Our headquarters are based in Southern California. However, we are beginning to develop chapters in other regions of the world as drowning has no borders.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I studied existing nonprofits to ensure there was not an abundance of duplication efforts on my part. I wanted to address the issue of why drowning statistics were not reducing each year. After realizing it was due to a lack of public knowledge and outreach on the matter, I knew we were ready to launch.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
During our first year of operation, we spread our message via word-of-mouth. We are a start-up and run on donations and volunteers. So, a marketing budget does not exist for Swim Brayv Foundation currently. We rely on our team telling their family and friends, and so on.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
- Consistent fundraising, aka being a development director. It is tough when you are the executive director as well.
- Making sure the day to day tasks get done and raising donated funds in order to grow the company.
- I have been challenging myself to become better at balancing the two positions because I will likely be doing both for some time.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I accepted reality and reminded myself that I am only one person. After accepting that, I figured out how much time I had to give to each position in order to complete my top priorities. Everything else took second priority from that point until I was able to complete my primary tasks. I also asked for help more often. My entire board and creative team consists of volunteers, and they help me they can. I am very grateful for my team.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I pray a lot to get through difficult times, I even pray in the good times. I also meditate and surround myself with positive people.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
As a nonprofit I do not like the word “competitors”. Even though we may be going after a similar donor pool, I support their efforts towards water safety. I do feel the Swim Brayv Foundation has an exceptional leadership team and a very innovative creative team and I am very honored because of that.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Listen to your vessel. When you are on the right path in life, your body physically, emotionally and spiritually aligns.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Support other entrepreneurs operating good, ethical businesses. Stay honest and trustworthy even in a competitive environment. Competition should not be a “dirty” or bad thing. It keeps the world innovating.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
My team is the best resource I could ask for. Whenever I need a second opinion, or I do not know how to do something, they have been there to help.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
A fun and informational summer read on Summer Water Safety Tips.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
We are always looking for reliable volunteers with a passion to help. And donations are always helpful! For individual donations please visit our website and click the donate button. For company donations please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a donor’s packet.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Our summer goals are:
- To reach a minimum of 20,000 people this summer regarding drowning prevention advocacy and water safety; with the hope of saving at least 1 life with our proactive outreach.
We have started attending events and building a future events calendar. At this rate, we will reach our goal by the end of August. (Additional funding will speed up this date and increase the amount of people reached!)
- To raise a minimum of $25,000 to continue daily operations at an increased rate, and to develop our proactive water safety outreach program.
We have begun applying for grants and seeking corporate donors recently. We will continue to build and grow these efforts.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @swimbrayv, @sea_into_candance
Hashtags #SwimBrayv #SaveLivesSwimBrayv #WeCanMakeADifference
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